My life in the lab !

Emilien BONHOMME – PhD Student –

Team Pierre PHILIP – Sleep, Addiction and Neuropsychiatry (SANPSY)

Identification of physiological and behavioral parameters capable of predicting the quality of take-over in level 3 autonomous driving


What is your PhD topic?

I’m working about the autonomous vehicle. At level 3 automated, the vehicle ensures driving and the driver disengages from driving to perform another activity independent of driving (e.g. read a book, play on his phone ….). However, drivers are expected to be available to take over control for the case of system failure or limitation. This take-over control must take place in a limited time, very short, of the order of a few seconds. To take-over control of the vehicle quickly and efficiently, the driver must be, at the time of take-over, vigilant, efficient, and attentive to the environment and focused on the take-over of manual driving. Predicting the driver’s reengagement capabilities to ensure that the driver will be able to take-over control of the vehicle is crucial at level 3 of autonomous driving.

The objective of my PhD is to determine physiological and behavioral parameters capable of predicting the take-over quality in level 3 conditionally automated vehicles in a simulated highway-driving situation in healthy drivers or drivers with attention disorders.


What kind of techniques do you use?

For the simulation, my lab has a driving simulator. It is a real car with a 230° screen around it and 3 screens simulating wing mirrors. I record different data driving like the break action, weaving, speed, etc. For physiological data, I am using an EEG Helmet to record Brain activity and a BIOPAC System to record muscle activity, heart activity, respiration and electrodermal activity. Finally, for behavior data, I am using an eye tracking system to record different data like the pupil diameter, gaze direction, blinking frequency and duration.


What is a typical day for you?

 Currently, I am trying to recruit a maximum of subjects for my study. I spend a lot of time on the phone and I fill a lot of paperwork (this is not the most interesting of my PhD). And when I have free time, I correct the problems that I encounter in the proper functioning of my study to be ready on launch day.


What do you prefer in your PhD student life?

I think what I like the most is everything around my study (ANTIDOTE), set up the different systems or include subjects for my study. I think I like to be more and more in contact with people since this stage.


How is the atmosphere in your laboratory? 

The atmosphere is great. Everyone has known each other for years and we sometimes share outings together. I feel surrounded, supported, and when I have a problem, I’m never alone.


What do you want to do after your PhD? 

I do not know… I’m beginning my 3rd year, I still have a little time to think about that. Actually, I have a terrible desire to travel, to go around the world. After that, why not resume with a postdoc if the opportunity presents itself to me.


Any advice for Master’s students who think about pursuing into PhD?

If you want to go on this adventure, you must be passionate and must like research. Three years, it may seem long but in reality, it passes very quickly. I did not see my 2nd year because I liked what I was doing. And if you are well surrounded, it is a really good experience.